Hillary’s secret war

Hillary’s Illegal War Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Hillary’s Illegal War Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

, July 1, 2015:

In the course of my work, I am often asked by colleagues to review and explain documents and statutes. Recently, in conjunction with my colleagues Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne, I read the transcripts of an interview Ms. Browne did with a man named Marc Turi, and Ms. Herridge asked me to review emails to and from State Department and congressional officials during the years when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state.

What I saw has persuaded me beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that Mrs. Clinton provided material assistance to terrorists and lied to Congress in a venue where the law required her to be truthful. Here is the backstory.

Mr. Turi is a lawfully licensed American arms dealer. In 2011, he applied to the Departments of State and Treasury for approvals to sell arms to the government of Qatar. Qatar is a small Middle Eastern country whose government is so entwined with the U.S. government that it almost always will do what American government officials ask of it.

In its efforts to keep arms from countries and groups that might harm Americans and American interests, Congress has authorized the Departments of State and Treasury to be arms gatekeepers. They can declare a country or group to be a terrorist organization, in which case selling or facilitating the sale of arms to it is a felony. They also can license dealers to sell.

Mr. Turi sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of arms to the government of Qatar, which then, at the request of American government officials, were sold, bartered or given to rebel groups in Libya and Syria. Some of the groups that received the arms were on the U.S. terror list. Thus, the same State and Treasury Departments that licensed the sales also prohibited them.

How could that be?

That’s where Mrs. Clinton’s secret State Department and her secret war come in. Because Mrs. Clinton used her husband’s computer server for all of her email traffic while she was the secretary of state, a violation of three federal laws, few in the State Department outside her inner circle knew what she was up to.

Now we know.

She obtained permission from President Obama and consent from congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and in both parties to arm rebels in Syria and Libya in an effort to overthrow the governments of those countries.

Many of the rebels Mrs. Clinton armed, using the weapons lawfully sold to Qatar by Mr. Turi and others, were terrorist groups who are our sworn enemies. There was no congressional declaration of war, no congressional vote, no congressional knowledge beyond fewer than a dozen members, and no federal statute that authorized this.

When Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, asked Mrs. Clinton at a public hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 23, 2013, whether she knew about American arms shipped to the Middle East, to Turkey or to any other country, she denied any knowledge. It is unclear whether she was under oath at the time, but that is legally irrelevant. The obligation to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to Congress pertains to all witnesses who testify before congressional committees, whether an oath has been administered or not. (Just ask Roger Clemens, who was twice prosecuted for misleadingCongress about the contents of his urine while not under oath. He was acquitted.)

Here is her relevant testimony:

Mr. Paul: My question is is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons buying, selling anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?

Mrs. Clinton: To Turkey? … I will have to take that question for the record. Nobody’s ever raised that with me. I, I .

Mr. Paul: It’s been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons and what I’d like to know is the [Benghazi] annex that was close by . Were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons and were any of these weapons transferred to other countries any countries, Turkey included?

Mrs. Clinton: Senator, you will have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. And I will see what information is available and ahhhh .

Mr. Paul: You are saying you don’t know .

Mrs. Clinton: I do not know. I don’t have any information on that.

At the time that Mrs. Clinton denied knowledge of the arms shipments, she and her State Department political designee, Andrew Shapiro, had authorized thousands of shipments of billions of dollars’ worth of arms to U.S. enemies to fight her secret war. Among the casualties of her war were U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three colleagues, who were assassinated at the American consulate in Benghazi, by rebels Mrs. Clinton armed with American military hardware in violation of American law.

This secret war and the criminal behavior that animated it was the product of conspirators in the White House, the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the CIA and a tight-knit group of members of Congress. Their conspiracy has now unraveled. Where is the outrage among the balance of Congress?

Hillary Clinton lied to Congress, gave arms to terrorists and destroyed her emails. How much longer can she hide the truth? How much longer can her lawlessness go unchallenged and unprosecuted? Does she really think the American voters will overlook her criminal behavior and put her in the White House where she can pardon herself?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is an analyst for the Fox News Channel. He has written seven books on the U.S. Constitution.

Birthday for A Caliphate

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by Dr. Sebastian Gorka, June 29, 2015:

After Friday’s deadly jihadist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, Prime Mister David Cameron has stated that ISIS is an existential threat to the West. Today’s anniversary of the re-establishment of the Caliphate give us good cause to assess the threat to America in this, the first part of a two part piece by Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

One year ago, a man unknown to most of the world achieved a feat that has eluded Islamic extremists for the previous 90 years.

On June 29, 2015 Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, after almost a century of absence, formally reestablished the theocratic empire of Islam in a sermon from the pulpit of the Grand Mosque in Mosul. In the last year, his terror group, ISIS, which today we should call by its new name of the Islamic State, has grown to become the most dangerous insurgency of the modern era.

On September 10th, 2001 it would have been impossible to imagine that humans would soon be crucifying each other again, or that there would be an anti-American terrorist group able to capture and hold territory in multiple nations of the Middle East without Washington or her allies and partners being able to stunt its growth. We are now living in such a world. A world where innocent prisoners are burnt or drowned alive, or unbelievably decapitated with the use of detonating cord. A world in which hundreds of thousands have been killed in a civil war in Syria and an insurgency in Iraq, both together driving millions of survivors into refugees camps or into the hands of human traffickers.

The Islamic State that is at the center of this tragedy is a unique threat for four reasons:

  • Firstly, it is the richest group of its kind in modern history. No other sub-state actor has the resources available to IS. Since capturing city after city in Iraq it has netted close to a billion dollars from state coffers, augmenting this stupendous sum with illicit oil salesransoms, and the sale of plundered antiquities. This income will allow IS to continue operations for years to come, and not just in Iraq and Syria. (Note: according to the official 9/11 commission report, that stupendous attack only cost Al Qaeda $500,000).
  • Second, it is the first ever transnational insurgency. In the modern era of guerrilla warfare, the insurgent force was defined by its desire to defeat an incumbent government and replace it. This was true of Mao Tse Tung in China, or the FARC of Colombia, and all the other insurgencies of the 20th century. The Islamic State is an international insurgency recruiting as it does from Muslim communities all around the world and enjoying the sponsorship of more than one foreign government. However, it is also a transnational insurgency. Not only does it hold territory in both Iraq and Syria, with the intent of displacing both the Assad government and the government in Baghdad, it has the goal of destroying all regimes that it deems to be un-Islamic. The fact that Nigeria’s Boko Haram was recently accepted into IS and subsequently changed its name to The West Africa Province of the Islamic State means that Abu Bakr is now technically the Caliph or emperor of not only all IS land in the Middle East, but also former Boko Haram territory in Africa.
  • Third, in its ability to recruit jihadi fighters, the Islamic State has out surpassed Al Qaeda in every measure. Exact figures are impossible, but the best estimates are that, in the space of less than a year, the Islamic State has drawn 20,000 foreign fighters from around the globe, including Western Europe, Australia and North America. Al Qaeda, the original jihadi group responsible for the 9/11 attacks, did manage to attract foreign recruits, but never in the tens of thousands.
  • Lastly, and most problematically for any hope we may have for defeating IS, the Islamic State has built a global Social Media-based propaganda platform that is very sophisticated and effective and that the nations its wishes to destroy – America included – have been impotent to combat.

Alone, these four attributes would make any irregular threat like IS/ISIS a formidable enemy. Where it is located makes it a strategically deadly one.

Just like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has a very deep eschatology. The Sunna, or traditions of Islam, go into great detail about how the world will end and how all humans will be finally judged on the final day by Allah. Before that end comes, the religion is explicit that there will be a great final holy war, or Jihad, in the land of Al Shaam, the Arabic word for Greater Syria and the Levant, or the territory in which Abu Bakr has successfully established his new Caliphate. In fact, between its origins as Al Qaeda in Iraq and its current name of the Islamic State, the group specifically referred to itself as The Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham. As a result, Abu Bakr, the leader of the new Caliphate, has the eschatology of a faith followed by over 1 billion Muslims on his side. He knows that, by being successful on the ground that all Muslims know is the site of the last holy war before judgement day, he can rely on a steady stream of recruits for as long as there is no opposing ground force set against him in Al Sham.

Plainly put, in the last 12 months since he declared the new Caliphate, Abu Bakr has achieved more than Al Qaeda did in the preceding 13 years. Also, instead of being the “JV team” to Ayman al Zawahiri’s professional team, it is America that has presented itself as the amateur foe.

After Abu Bakr and his Al Qaeda in Iraq franchise was kicked out of the original terror group by Zawahiri for disobeying his orders, he took his small terrorist force in Syria from Iraq and used the civil war there to train and expand his force. As the bloodshed mounted both there and in an Iraq increasingly divided by the corruption and brutality of the Maliki regime, hundreds of thousands of local residents fell victim to the depredations of the competing fighting forces. Yet America decided not to respond. Having pulled our forces out of Iraq in 2011, we were unready and unable to respond to the growing threat. At the same time, President Obama made repeated statements about “red lines” that President Assad was not to cross. The lines were crossed but without triggering a US response. Not until thousands of Yazidis were hounded by ISIS up to the top of Mount Sinjar did the President decide to act by deploying air assets to target ISIS units on the ground.

The delay in an American response has cost America’s reputation in the Gulf dearly, perhaps more dearly than anything done by the administration of George W. Bush. As it was recently explained to me by a very senior U.S. General with responsibilities in the region: “Our Sunni allies just don’t trust us anymore. The region already runs on conspiracy theories, but after the Sunni see more than 200,000 of their people murdered in the last three years and we do nothing until a minority sect is attacked, they draw the conclusion that we are on the side of the mullahs and the Shia revival.”

If one agrees with the summary by Prime Minister Netanyahu that the violence on the Middle East and North Africa cannot be understood unless seen as “a game of thrones” for the crown of the caliphate between the Shia and Sunni extremists, then it is obvious that giving the impression that we have already chosen sides will only feed the flames of war. Especially when this impression is apparently confirmed by every additional concession made by the White House to Tehran in the hopes of closing a nuclear deal with the Revolutionary Republic.

Nor can these threats any longer be relegated to events happening far away. As the targeting of Pamela Geller’s free speech event in Garland, Texas by two armed jihadis demonstrates, those who wish to impose a puritanical and violent version of Islam upon America and her citizens are already here. And Garland is not a one-off. The FBI has confirmed that the Bureau already has ongoing IS-related investigations underway in every state of the Republic. Recently, the first IS recruiter was arrested in New Jersey. And in preparation for this article I had a research assistant simply collect all open-source reports of IS arrests and plots uncovered in the US in the last 24 months. We found 56!

When will America take the threat of a hyper-violent organization with tens of thousands of adherents who wish to destroy America seriously? When did we take Al Qaeda seriously? On September 12th, 2001. At the moment, short of a mass-casualty attack occurring on US soil in a way that links the perpetrators directly to the Islamic State, it seems highly unlikely that the Obama administration will truly take the fight to IS. Of the 400+ troops the White House has decided to deploy to Iraq to help train the trainers, less than 150 will in fact work on that mission, with the rest providing security to the trainers. The Islamic State has more than 30,000 active jihadis, more than half of whom were recruited from abroad. And the most powerful nation in the world can only spare an extra 150 trainers? As another senior officer recently commented in front of a meeting of US generals: “Every day that ISIS still exists and the most powerful nation in the world does nothing, we can chalk another propaganda victory up to the jihadis.”

Consequently, it seems unavoidable that IS will continue to grow and spread its barbarity until a new Commander-in-Chief is sworn in. The good news is that in an election campaign that is already underway and which almost each day sees the cornucopia of at least the Republic candidates increase, national security is at last back on the front burner, or rather both front burners. As a result we may have a chance after November 2016 to engage our newest enemy in the way the jihadists deserve.

The details of a possible strategy that could be used to measure the candidates will follow in Part Two.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

Exclusive: The Arming of Benghazi

062615_web_arms_0Fox Business, by Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne, June 27, 2015:

The United States supported the secret supply of weapons to Libyan rebels while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State according to federal court documents obtained by Fox News.

In a sworn declaration to the District Court of Arizona May 5th 2015, a career CIA officer David Manners said, “It was then, and remains now, my opinion that the United States did participate, directly or indirectly, in the supply of weapons to the Libyan Transitional National Council.”   The timing matters because in the Spring of 2011 the Libyan opposition was not formally recognized, and the direct supply of arms was not authorized. At that time, the CIA Director was David Petraeus. (DAVID MANNERS DOCUMENT HERE)

Manners testified before a grand jury investigating American defense contractor Marc Turi who faces trial this September on two counts that he allegedly violated the arms control export act by making false statements.

Turi and his company Turi Defense Group are at the center of an ongoing federal investigation over the source and user of weapons defined in court documents as “end user” or “end use”  flowing into Libya as Moammar Qaddafi’s regime was collapsing in 2011.

In “United States of America v. Marc Turi and Turi Defense Group,”  Manners identifies himself as having 18 years experience as an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency or CIA, with foreign postings as Chief of Station in Prague, Czechoslovakia and in Amman, Jordan.  Manners also stated he was “the executive assistant to the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency.”

Manners’ declaration supports statements made exclusively to FOX News by Turi about what President Obama’s team and members of Congress knew about weapons flowing into the region  during the chaotic Arab Spring of 2011.

“When this equipment landed in Libya, half went one way, and the half went the other way,”  Turi said, emphasizing that poor oversight, allowed individuals hostile to the United States to get arms.  “The half that went the other way is the half that ended up in Syria.”

As part of Fox’s ongoing investigation of the 2012 terrorist attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, as well as former Navy Seals Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, Turi spoke exclusively to FOX Senior Executive Producer Pamela Browne.   The investigation premiered on “FOX Files” on the FOX BUSINESS NETWORK.

Turi was one of several thousand US arms contractors licensed by the State Department to sell and move weapons around the world.  He’s been a go to guy for the US government, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I got involved in this business in the 1990s,”  Turi explained. “I’ve been involved in all type of operations, regarding transportation, logistics, and liaising with those foreign governments.”

Turi admits to a criminal history.  He told Fox that in the late 1980’s, he stole a computer, his roommate’s car, and wrote bad checks including one for $100,000 dollars.  Through court records, Fox News verified he was arrested, convicted, and served time in an Arizona jail.

“In my youth, I made some very very bad mistakes…I was discharged from the United States Navy other under than honorable conditions…and I’ve been fighting ever since to get that honor back.”   (TURI DISCHARGE DOCUMENT HERE)

Licensed arms contractors require painstaking compliance in order to obtain the necessary approvals set by strict US government regulations. While Hillary Clinton served as President Obama’s Secretary of State, American arms dealers were awarded a record number of export licenses to sell sophisticated weapons, military parts and technology internationally.

“That’s actually been a huge, policy position, of the Obama Administration,”  Celina Realuyo, a professor of national security at the Perry Center at the National Defense University explained to FOX. Realuyo has served two presidents with expertise in tracking down money and weaponry used in what are called “dark networks” that can channel weapons to criminal and designated foreign terrorist organizations.

More than 86-thousand licenses with a value of $44.3 billion dollars were granted in 2011… a surge of more than $10 billion dollars from the previous year.

In the spring of 2011, Turi says his high level contacts both inside and outside of the US government, encouraged him to explore options to arm the Libyan opposition as they tried to overthrow then Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi.  He says his associates included David Manners, a former intelligence officer with the CIA who stated his expertise to the court as an expert with knowledge of “authorized covert arms transfers.”

Turi provided documents and email exchanges with high level members of Congress as well as military, and State Department employees which are currently being reviewed by Fox News.

Turi said, “That’s where I came up with this “zero footprint” Arab supply chain whereby, our foreign ally supplies another, Arab country.”  In this case, the US would supply conventional weapons to a US ally-Qatar, who would inturn supply them to Libya, as a kind of workaround.

“If you want to  limit the exposure to the US government, what you simply do is outsource it to your allies,”  Turi said, describing the practice. “The partners-the Qataris, and the Emiratis did exactly what they were contracted to do.”  Turi told Fox he never supplied any weapons to Qatar, and it was in the hands of the US government and the State Department’s Bureau of Political and Military Affairs which was headed by a key Clinton aide, Andrew Shapiro.  Mr. Shapiro was responsible to oversee the export control process at the State Department.

March 2011 was a busy time for Hillary Clinton.  Even today, congressional investigators doubt they have all of the emails from her personal server when she was Secretary of State.   On the 14th, along with Chris Stevens, who was then the number two man in Libya serving as the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Clinton met with Libya’s Mustafa Jibril in Paris– a senior member of the TNC.  The next day, Secretary Clinton met with Egypt’s new foreign minister Nabil el Arabi in Cairo and walked through Tahrir Square with her senior adviser Huma Abedin.  At the same time, Turi’s proposal, a 267-million dollar contract, was working its way through US government channels.

“My application was submitted on the 12th,”  Turi said his contacts gave the proposal to the then Secretary of State.  “…through their relationship with the TNC, then provided that application information to Mrs. Clinton via the TNC council when she was in Cairo. That’s what was told to me…and emailed. ”

Turi provided  Fox News with emails he exchanged – in early April 2011 – with Chris Stevens to alert him  to the proposed weapons deal.  The emails were previously cited by the New York Times, but Fox News is now making the message traffic public. (CHRIS STEVENS EMAIL DOCUMENT HERE)

Stevens replied with a “thank you ” and wrote  “I’ll keep it in mind and share it with my colleagues in Washington.”

As FOX Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge first reported, it was a heavily redacted email released to the Benghazi Committee last month that clearly states that on April 8, 2011, a day after the Turi/Stevens exchange, Secretary Clinton was interested in arming the rebels using contractors:

“FYI. The idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered,” Clinton wrote.  Significantly, the State Department released emails blacked out this line, but the version given to the Benghazi Select Committee was complete. (CLINTON EMAIL DOCUMENT HERE)

In May 2011, Turi got a brokering approval from the State Department for Qatar.  In July, his Arizona home was raided by federal agents.

“They came in  the full body armor, and weapons and, they take my computers and my cell phones and that was it. That was the last time I saw them. And they’ve been chasing me all over the world for the past three years, speaking to associates of mine all over the United States and looking into my records and my past.”

His attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou told Fox in a series of emails that his client had a track record working for the “US government through the Central Intelligence Agency” and the government case is an “epic fishing expedition.”  Adding his client”…neither lied on any application nor did he do anything other than support U.S. foreign policy and interests in the Middle East.”

Turi believes his “zero footprint” idea was stolen out from under him, and now he is being blamed for a program that went off the rails.

Such are the stakes in this case, that the Justice Department National Security Division is involved, and recently requested that some proceedings remain secret under CIPA, the Classified Information Procedures Act.   The Federal Judge wrote on June 16 “the government can seek protection under CIPA 4 in this case only by complying with Ninth Circuit law by making a formal claim of privilege, lodged by the head of the department which has actual control over the discoverable information.”

In his sworn declaration to the court, Manners said his grand jury testimony on covert arms transfers was cut off by the government lawyer. “As a result of the Assistant United States Attorney’s actions, I believe that (a) the grand jury never received a full and complete picture of authorized covert arms transfers and their relevance to the present case. ”

“At some point, I may be that internet video excuse,”  Turi said, referring to statements where then Secretary of Clinton and members of the Obama Administration wrongly blamed an obscure anti-Islam video for the 2012 terrorist attack that killed four Americans.    “I don’t know.  But, it’s really strange that the US government would invest three years, a multi-year investigation, fly all over the world interviewing people, for an application.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

House Subcommittee Hearing on “Intelligence Void” involved in admitting Syrian Refugees

3927540564CSP, by Alessandra Gennarelli, June 24, 2015:

Wednesday, June 24th, the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security held a hearing titled “Admitting Syrian refugees: The Intelligence Void and the Emerging Homeland Security Threat.” This hearing addressed the issue of the FBI’s inability to vet incoming Syrian and Iraqi refugees that could have terrorist ties.

Chairman Representative Peter King (R-NY) started by stating that “Americans opening doors to those who flee violence is a part of who we are” giving examples to past refugee success stories such as Albert Einstein, before summarizing the security threat in Iraq and Syria and the “vulnerabilities in the screening process.”

Rep. King went on to highlight the threat of “refugees who take advantage of the safe haven,” stating that the “savagery of ISIS” has caused the “worlds biggest refugee crisis.” He stated that the area has a “lack of stable foreign governments” and the “information and intelligence we are able to acquire is limited and often times unverifiable.”

Rep. King ended his opening statement by saying that while America “should not close [it’s] doors” it should be “thoughtful and intuitive with the most assurance that we are not importing terrorists” and that the panel testifying should “solicit recommendations on additional measures that should be taken.”

In his opening statement, Dr. Seth Jones, the director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, warned that a “growing number of attacks in the US are linked back to this region” and that there are “4 million refugees based in the Syrian province.” He went on to say that Syria has the “highest number of foreign fighters, several [terrorist] groups in the region have planned to put operatives in the west including Europe, and the US intelligence understanding [in the area] is worse.” He summarized by saying that the “US does have a long standing tradition of offering asylum … however an integral part is insuring that those refugees including those in jihadist battlefields do not present a risk to safety and security in the west.”

Thomas Fuentes, former FBI Assistant Director, followed by stating that the International Police Cooperation or Interpol, is “essential in everything we do” and that lack of working partners in Syria, specifically the lack of police and government in the region, is a large reason the FBI does not have the capabilities to vet incoming refugees from the area. Thomas Fuentes stated that he has served as a member of the Executive Committee of Interpol and opened an FBI office in Baghdad, which was a crucial resource for intelligence on the area. He continued to state that a lack of government in Syria deeply affects America’s ability to gain information concerning refugees in the area.

Daveed Gartenstein- Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense Democracies, began his opening statement discussing the interest the country should have in “alleviating the situation in Syria.” He added that if a terrorist group should decide to pose a terrorist as a refugee they would have to “land in a refugee camp and get picked up in the lottery process by the UN” to be chosen to come here. He continued in saying that the radicalization process of those already in the United States is the bigger problem. He gave the example of someone in the United States who has an interest in Syria and looks at the terrorist group al- Nusra as cooperative as having an alleviated risk of radicalization than imported refugees. He also stated that the declining domestic product causes a risk in handling these problems, and that a reevaluation of the US migration policy is in order. He ended by stating that the US has a bad reputation of “not standing by those who help us” and that we need to “focus on our obligation to Iraqis and Afghans who assisted U.S. efforts in these countries.”

Rep. King then asked the panel whether Jordan could be relied upon to help in the vetting process. Fuentes answered by stating that the United States has an excellent relationship with the Jordanians and their intelligence is excellent. Dr. Jones agreed in saying that Jordan does have the best handle on the problem but that there should be a layered system in which our intelligence program follows the Jordanian vetting process, and that we should not rely on anyone else to do this process for us.

Congressman Lou Barletta (R- PA) asked, “How would you access the intelligence communities to properly vet refugees for admission?” Dr. Jones commented that Syria has far fewer human collectors, intelligence capabilities and has a much weaker ability to collect information useful for the vetting process.”

Fuentes then went on to point out that since “refugees are enemies of the state, we cannot rely on that state to vet them properly.”

The witnesses were then asked about helping these refugees in ways other than bringing them into the country. Daveed answered saying that the American public has a strong duty and that “actually addressing the situation over there is important.” He commented that we could “improve the situation in camps and provide job and educational opportunities.” He supported thinking about helping the issue in the area of origin and that it would be “the best use of money.” Fuentes agreed with providing resources “that would make camps more livable” but warned that the length of time that this aid would be provided would determine the timing of terrorism, because these groups would wait until the program ends to send their men through refugee camps.

Rep. Keating (D- MA) asked about the internal intelligence found on the ground with limited people there. Dr. Jones answered that while “capabilities are better today than a few years ago … better doesn’t mean good.”

Chairman King asked about maintaining surveillance on those entering the United States as Syrian refugees. Fuentes quickly answered saying the FBI cannot track these people “unless there is a predication or indication that the person is involved in criminal activity” and that tracking a large population such as all Syrian refugees is not plausible as the amount observed has to be narrowed down before it can be initiated. Daveed followed by saying that the US vetting system is “very antiquated.”

Chairman King concluded the hearing by saying there is currently “no real answer” to the problem, and “there is still going to be risks there no matter what process we follow.” However, it is “in our national interest that something be done and we are going to have to find a way to do it…

Is Kurdistan Rising?

The State of the Kurds  WSJ 6-20-15

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 21, 2015:

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”.  An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources.  The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

Supporters cheer Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP

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Clinton Silent as Number of Worldwide Refugees Reaches Record Level

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Daniel Wiser, June 23, 2015:

Hillary Clinton’s policies as secretary of state failed to address several crises that have produced a record number of displaced persons worldwide, according to a Republican group that also noted her lack of a commemoration for World Refugee Day.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report last week that there were 59.5 million people who were forcibly displaced at the end of 2014, the largest number ever recorded. More than half of the displaced persons were children. Refugee levels spiked in the Middle East, Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa, all regions where Clinton’s policies faced criticism during her tenure as secretary of state.

America Rising PAC, a GOP opposition research firm, pointed out that Clinton—the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president—did not make a statement on World Refugee Day, this past Saturday.

“Secretary Clinton’s silence on World Refugee Day was extremely telling,” Colin Reed, executive director of America Rising, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “Under her failed leadership at the State Department, the world became less stable and more dangerous, and her policies led to the global unrest that has contributed to the number of refugees reaching record levels.”

The UNHCR said one of the main contributors to the burgeoning refugee total is the four-year civil war in Syria, where an average of 42,500 people were displaced each day of last year. Syria has the world’s most internally displaced people (7.6 million) as well as refugees that have fled to other countries (3.88 million).

In March 2011, Clinton said the United States did not intervene in Syria because of the perception that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a “reformer.” Critics later derided Clinton for the comment when Assad escalated his crack down on the country’s opposition and began to kill his own people, including with chemical weapons. The civil war has claimed more than 200,000 lives.

Clinton reportedly supported efforts to arm more moderate rebels early in the civil war but failed to persuade President Obama to do so.

Terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), capitalized on the chaos in the Syrian war to expand their territory. In June 2014, IS launched an offensive across the Syrian border into western and northern Iraq, seizing the key city of Mosul and eventually other cities in Iraq’s Anbar province. More than 3.3 million Iraqis have been displaced by IS.

Last June, Clinton said she “could not have predicted the extent to which [IS] could be effective in seizing cities in Iraq and trying to erase boundaries to create an Islamist state.” Intelligence officials have said their efforts to monitor IS were made more difficult by the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011. Clinton largely supported the removal of U.S. forces from Iraq and dismissed criticism of the Obama administration, which was unable to secure a status of forces agreement permitting a residual troop presence.

In Ukraine, the conflict between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists has displaced1.2 million people in the country and resulted in more than 6,000 deaths since last April. Clinton infamously presented a “reset” button to Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in 2009 to promote more cooperation between the two countries, though the Russian word on the button actually translated into “overcharged.” Amid Russia’s ongoing destabilization of Ukraine and continued support for Assad, the reset policy is now widely regarded as a misguided move. Nonetheless, Clinton said last year that the reset “worked” on issues such as nuclear nonproliferation and the transport of supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Additionally, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has forced more than 1.5 million people, including 800,000 children, to abandon their homes. Hundreds of Nigerian teachers and schoolchildren were killed last year. Despite pressure from some U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Clinton declined to name Boko Haram a terrorist group while she was secretary of state. Sen. David Vitter (R., La.) has speculated that Clinton’s decision might be related to Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian construction magnate and Clinton Foundation donor with substantial business interests in the country.

A Clinton spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on World Refugee Day and her policies as secretary of state.

Also see:

ISIS Is Following a Plan Laid Out Ten Years Ago by Al-Qaeda, and It’s All Working

-, -:  (FILES) -- A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated 17 June 2005 shows Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. Al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on the Internet 29 September 2006, called US President George W Bush a liar who had "failed in his war against Al-Qaeda", Al-Jazeera television reported. The previous day, Islamist websites on the Internet had said there would be a new video message posted by Zawahiri entitled " Bush, the pope, Darfur and the Crusades."  AFP PHOTO/AL-JAZEERA  -- QATAR OUT & INTERNET OUT --  (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

-, -: (FILES) — A TV grab from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news channel dated 17 June 2005 shows Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri delivering a speech at an undisclosed location with a machine gun next to him. Al-Zawahiri, in a video posted on the Internet 29 September 2006, called US President George W Bush a liar who had “failed in his war against Al-Qaeda”, Al-Jazeera television reported. The previous day, Islamist websites on the Internet had said there would be a new video message posted by Zawahiri entitled ” Bush, the pope, Darfur and the Crusades.” AFP PHOTO/AL-JAZEERA — QATAR OUT & INTERNET OUT — (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

PJ Media, by Robert Spencer, June 19, 2015:

It has been almost a year since June 29, 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) declared the formation of a new caliphate and dropped the second half of its name, rebranding itself as simply the Islamic State. It has survived nine months since Barack Obama vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” it.

It has survived, and has continued to attract Muslims from all over the world, even after virtually every major world leader and Islamic group has condemned it as un-Islamic. And it shows no sign of going anywhere anytime soon.

All this is well-known. What is less known is that the plan for the restoration of the caliphate was sketched out ten years ago by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and has been followed out more or less exactly by the Islamic State.

The claim to reconstitute the caliphate is the key to the Islamic State’s success — the importance of this cannot be overstated.

The revival of the caliphate is, in the eyes of those who support it and have longed for it all these years, a return to the form of government of the glory days of Islam. From Muhammad’s death through Islam’s Golden Age up until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the end of World War I, Muslims were ruled by a caliph, the successor to Muhammad as spiritual and political leader of Islam.

And the declaration of the caliphate, and its placement in and around Syria and Iraq, was not an invention of the Islamic State, or incidental to what it perceived as its mission from the beginning. In reality, a new caliphate had long been an aspiration dear to the hearts of many jihadi terrorists, including al-Qaeda.

Bin Laden’s lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote to the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (which ultimately became the Islamic State), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, on July 9, 2005:

It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world, specifically in the Levant, Egypt, and the neighboring states of the Peninsula and Iraq; however, the center would be in the Levant and Egypt.

Zawahiri also heaped praise on Zarqawi for helping bring that state — the revived caliphate — closer to reality:

If our intended goal in this age is the establishment of a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet and if we expect to establish its state predominantly — according to how it appears to us — in the heart of the Islamic world, then your efforts and sacrifices — God permitting — are a large step directly towards that goal.

Zawahiri then offered Zarqawi his “humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals,” the first of which was to “expel the Americans from Iraq.” The second stage, wrote Zarqawi, would be exactly what the Islamic State ended up doing nine years later:

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate — over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

Following the establishment of this state, the third stage would be to “extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq,” followed by the fourth stage, which “may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.”

Zawahiri wrote in an extremely deferential manner to Zarqawi, repeatedly assuring the Iraq commander that his analysis was not “infallible.” Nonetheless, he did not hesitate to give him direction, emphasizing that:

The mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal.

If they did that:

We will return to having the secularists and traitors holding sway over us. Instead, their ongoing mission is to establish an Islamic state, and defend it, and for every generation to hand over the banner to the one after it until the Hour of Resurrection.

Zawihiri summed up the “two short-term goals” as “removing the Americans and establishing an Islamic amirate in Iraq, or a caliphate if possible.” Attaining them, he wrote, would ensure possession of “the strongest weapon which the mujahedeen enjoy — after the help and granting of success by God,” which was “popular support from the Muslim masses in Iraq, and the surrounding Muslim countries.”

But al-Qaeda itself hesitated to declare a caliphate for fear that the Americans would nip it in the bud. A letter from Osama bin Laden, found in the trove of documents at the Abbottabad compound and declassified in May 2015, explained:

We should stress on the importance of timing in establishing the Islamic State. We should be aware that planning for the establishment of the state begins with exhausting the main influential power that enforced the siege on the Hamas government, and that overthrew the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact this power was depleted. We should keep in mind that this main power still has the capacity to lay siege on any Islamic State, and that such a siege might force the people to overthrow their duly elected governments. We have to continue with exhausting and depleting them till they become so weak that they can’t overthrow any State that we establish. That will be the time to commence with forming the Islamic state.

Bin Laden saw the restoration of the caliphate as the ultimate goal of al-Qaeda’s activities:

[T]he result that we deployed for … to reinstate the wise Caliphate and eliminate the disgrace and humiliation that our nation is suffering from.

But he argued against “insisting on the formation of an Islamic State at the time being” — and instead wanted his followers:

… to work on breaking the power of our main enemy by attacking the American embassies in the African countries, such as Sierra Leone, Togo, and mainly to attack the American oil companies.

Bin Laden was overcautious. The Islamic State established itself as the new caliphate and has thrived, and no one seems to have the will to do what is necessary to “degrade and destroy” it in any real sense. And so its first anniversary is unlikely to be its last.

State Department: Terror Attacks Increased 35% Between 2013 and 2014

French riot police officers run past a burning truck in Paris suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, early Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005. Britain's struggle to contain Muslim extremism points up a chilling trend across Europe: the rise of radical Islam, and with it, a willingness among a small but dangerous minority of young people to answer the call to jihad. From the squalid suburbs north of Paris to the gritty streets of Sarajevo, young disaffected Muslims are increasingly receptive to hard-liners looking to recruit foot soldiers for holy war, European counterterrorism officials and religious leaders warn. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

French riot police officers run past a burning truck in Paris suburb, Aulnay-sous-Bois, early Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005. Britain’s struggle to contain Muslim extremism points up a chilling trend across Europe: the rise of radical Islam, and with it, a willingness among a small but dangerous minority of young people to answer the call to jihad. From the squalid suburbs north of Paris to the gritty streets of Sarajevo, young disaffected Muslims are increasingly receptive to hard-liners looking to recruit foot soldiers for holy war, European counterterrorism officials and religious leaders warn. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Washington Free Beacon, by Blake Seitz, June 19, 2015:

The Associated Press reported Friday that terror attacks have increased 35 percent between 2013 and 2014. Deaths due to terrorist attacks have spiked by 81 percent.

The news comes from the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism, which will be officially released later on Friday.

Terror attacks in 2014 were “exceptionally lethal,” with 20 attacks claiming more than 100 victims.

The AP reports that “increased terror activity has been observed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria,” with the highest number of attacks occurring in Iraq, where the Islamic State has capitalized on the power vacuum created by U.S. withdrawal in 2011.

CNN reports that the publication singles out Islamic State and Boko Haram as terrorist groups gaining momentum, stealing recruits from traditional terror groups like Al Qaeda.

The report claims that the four-year-old Syrian civil war, which has claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced 40 percent of the country’s population, was a catalyst for terror and unrest elsewhere in the Middle East.

According to the report, more than 16,000 foreign fighters entered Syria in 2014, most of whom went to fight for IS.

The report claims that this number “exceeded the rate of foreign fighters who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years.”

The Islamic State’s strength is a matter of much debate, but some analysts estimate the group has more than 50,000 fighters—enough to replace battlefield casualties it has sustained from intense fighting in Syria and Iraq.

While much of the increased terrorist activity has occurred in the disorderly Middle East, Americans traveling abroad were not safe from harm. Twenty-four Americans were killed by terror attacks in 2014.

Also see:

A new strategy for Iraq and Syria

Iraq forcesWashington Post, by Charles Krauthammer, June 18, 2015:

It’s time to rethink Iraq and Syria. It begins by admitting that the old borders are gone, that a unified Syria or Iraq will never be reconstituted, that the Sykes-Picot map is defunct.

We may not want to enunciate that policy officially. After all, it does contradict the principle that colonial borders be maintained no matter how insanely drawn, the alternative being almost universally worse. Nonetheless, in Mesopotamia, balkanization is the only way to go.

Because it has already happened and will not be reversed. In Iraq, for example, we are reaping one disaster after another by pretending that the Baghdad government — deeply sectarian, divisive and beholden to Iran — should be the center of our policy and the conduit for all military aid.

Look at Fallujah, Mosul, Ramadi. The Iraqi army is a farce. It sees the enemy and flees, leaving its weapons behind. “The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi. They drove out of Ramadi,” said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Our own secretary of defense admitted that “the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.”

We can train them forever. The problem is one of will. They don’t want to fight. And why should they? They are led by commanders who are corrupt, sectarian and incompetent.

What to do? Redirect our efforts to friendly forces deeply committed to the fight, beginning with the Kurds, who have the will, the skill and have demonstrated considerable success. This year alone, they have taken back more than 500 Christian and Kurdish towns from the Islamic State. Unlike the Iraqi army, however, they are starved for weapons because, absurdly, we send them through Baghdad, which sends along only a trickle.

This week, more Kurdish success. With U.S. air support, Syrian Kurds captured the strategic town of Tal Abyad from the Islamic State. Which is important for two reasons. Tal Abyad controls the road connecting the terror group’s capital of Raqqa to Turkey, from which it receives fighters, weapons and supplies. Tal Abyad is “a lung through which [the Islamic State] breathed and connected to the outside world,” said Kurdish commander Haqi Kobane.

Moreover, Tal Abyad helps link isolated Kurdish areas in the Syrian north into a contiguous territory, like Iraqi Kurdistan. Which suggests that this territory could function as precisely the kind of long-advocated Syrian “safe zone” from which to operate against both the Islamic State and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

More good news comes from another battle line. Last week, the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front, backed by and trained in Jordan, drove the Syrian government out of its last major base in eastern Daraa province, less than 60 miles from Damascus.

These successes suggest a new U.S. strategy. Abandon our anachronistic fealty to the central Iraqi government (now largely under Iran’s sway anyway) and begin supplying the Iraqi Kurds in a direct, 24-hour, Berlin-style airlift. And in Syria, intensify our training, equipping and air support for the now-developing Kurdish safe zone. Similarly, through Jordan, for the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front. Such a serious and relentless strategy would not only roll back Islamic State territorial gains, it would puncture the myth of Islamic State invincibility.

In theory, we should also be giving direct aid to friendly Sunni tribesmen in Iraq whose Anbar Awakening, brilliantly joined by Gen. David Petraeus’ surge, utterly defeated the Islamic State progenitor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, in 2006-2007. The problem is, having been abandoned by us once, when President Obama liquidated our presence in 2011, why should the Sunnis ever trust us again?

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A Plan to Defeat ISIS

Published on Jun 18, 2015 by securefreedom

Center for Security Policy Exec. VP Jim Hanson announced CSP’s plan to topple that Caliphate and Defeat ISIS at the National Security Luncheon held at the Capitol Visitor’s Center 17 July 2015

Also see:

U.S. Arms Sales to Lebanon Empowering Hezbollah, Iran

Hezbollah fighters on parade / AP

Hezbollah fighters on parade / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, June 12, 2015:

Newly announced U.S. arms sales to Lebanon coincide with an Obama administration order to cut funding for an anti-Hezbollah Lebanese group, a move foreign policy insiders describe as empowering the Iranian backers of the terrorist group.

Critics are viewing the cut to anti-Hezbollah efforts as another concession by the administration to Iran—which controls and funds Hezbollah—ahead of attempts to finalize a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic ahead of a June 30 deadline.

Newly disclosed documents reveal that the Obama administration quietly decided in April to cut funds for Hayya Bina, a leading anti-Hezbollah group in Lebanon, “due to a recent shift in Department of State priorities in Lebanon,” according to a letter notifying the group of the funding cuts.

Soon after this move, the United States announced that it would deliver a slew of new weapons to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which has come under intense criticism for its close relationship with Hezbollah and its efforts to bolster the group’s activities in Syria.

The timing of these decisions by the Obama administration has prompted Middle East leaders and foreign policy insiders to accuse the administration of endorsing Hezbollah and shifting the United States’ regional priorities to be more in line with Iran’s.

The State Department, in its letter, ordered that “all activities [by Hayya Bina] intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shia voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely.”

This directly affects the group’s efforts to provide an alternative to Hezbollah, which is an extremist Shiite Muslim militant group.

On Wednesday, the State Department marked the delivery of more than 200 TOW-II missiles and “dozens of launchers to the LAF,” according to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

The military hardware cost more than $10 million and was jointly funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to the State Department.

Around $82.5 million in weapons and ammunition have been provided to the LAF since August 2014.

Additionally, the Pentagon announced this week that it is considering selling Lebanon six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and support equipment as well as logistical support.

The sale is estimated to cost $462 million, the Pentagon said.

“The Government of Lebanon has requested a possible sale of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, eight PT6A-68A Turboprop engines, eight ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispensing Systems, two thousand Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems, eight AN/AAR-60(V)2 Missile Launch Detection Systems, non-SAASM Embedded Global Positioning System/Initial Navigation System (EGIs), spare and repair parts, flight testing, maintenance support, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, ferry support, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support,” according to the Pentagon.

The sale “will provide Lebanon with a much needed Close Air Support (CAS) platform to meet present and future challenges posed by internal and border security threats,” according to the Pentagon. “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

However, regional experts disagree with this assessment. They argue that given the LAF’s close relationship with Hezbollah, the arms will support the terror group’s military efforts to bolster Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s embattled president.

The LAF is “basically protecting Hezbollah’s rear and flank on the Lebanese side of the border, which in turn allows Hezbollah to run its operations more freely across the border in Syria,” said Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) who first broke the news of the anti-Hezbollah funds being cut.

“They are essentially acting as an auxiliary force for Hezbollah in Lebanon,” he said, adding, the LAF has “taken on the role of securing the same areas Hezbollah is trying to secure. There’s an overlap and it goes to help sustain Hezbollah’s effort in Syria.”

U.S. assistance to the LAF helps Hezbollah continue its fight in Syria, Badran said.

America is “helping the Lebanese seal the border only in one direction, not both directions,” Badran explained. “We’re helping Lebanon, and thus Hezbollah, against anything coming in from the Syrian side, but not to totally seal the border, which would prevent Hezbollah from continuing its war” in Syria.

“We’re facilitating this war in a way,” Badran explained.” That’s the context of the arms. They’re being deployed in a manner that relieves Hezbollah and assists its war effort.”

All of this activity ultimately boosts Iranian interests in the region, where Hezbollah has been propping up Assad at Tehran’s behest.

The Obama administration is “appeasing [Iran] in order to get the nuclear agreement,” said Michael Doran, a former senior director for the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) under George W. Bush.

“The agreement is [Obama’s] absolute top priority, but it is not the strategic goal” said Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “The goal of the talks was always détente with Iran and that’s what we’re seeing. The nuclear goal is a means to a larger end.”

Badran also warned that ongoing U.S. military support to the LAF is bolstering Iran’s interests.

There is a “consistent attempt by Obama to assure the Iranians that their regional holdings and spheres of influence are recognized and respected,” he said. “He will not cross them and not jeopardize them. That includes in Syria, but by definition, includes it in Lebanon.”

“What we’re doing indirectly is helping Iran secure its strategic objective in Lebanon and Syria,” he said.

Islamic State offers millions to those who pledge allegiance

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey January 2, 2014. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Yaser Al-Khodor

CSP, by Alessandra Gennarelli, June 11, 2015:

The success of the Islamic State hinges on the group’s ability to expand the amount of territory it controls as well as in the number of adherents who swear allegiance to it, which is currently estimated to be from 20,000 to 200,000 in Iraq and Syria alone. There are thought to be at least 35 official terrorist groups that have pledged allegiance or support IS including Boko Haram of Nigeria, al-Murabitoun of Mali, and Ansar Bait al-Maqdi of Egypt.

Hisham al-Hashimi told al- Monitor, “IS distributed up to $6 million a month to groups like Boko Haram and Ansar al- Sharia.”

Abu Hajjar who oversaw Islamic State finances prior to his 2014 arrest reportedly told Iraqi officials that IS exported, “$2 billion in international investments to Libya, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and Yemen, money that is now being spread among external allied IS branches.”

The Islamic State is able to “move millions” through online transfer systems such as Hawala, which was the “primary method used by al Qaeda to send and receive cash.”Business Insider also reports that many branches of international banks are controlled by the Islamic State, giving the group the ability to send and receive money though EFTs. However, as a former U.S. counter- terrorism official told the L.A. Times, “You can literally drive a car with $10,000, $20,000 or a million dollars from XYZ country to Syria. Not a whole lot we can do.”

Such funding is vital to groups such as Boko Haram because the Islamic State‘s “financial support … can help guarantee their survival.” Along with money, groups that pledge allegiance to IS are reportedly given “training” and “strategic support,” further enhancing the appeal.

This strategy of expansion deepens IS roots throughout the Muslim world, making the task of defeating IS harder. Senior researcher Martin Ewi from the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa comments on the issue, “If the groups are committed, when the leadership of the current IS organization is removed, these groups can easily reorganize themselves.”

The Islamic State sees value in investing “in people, not infrastructure” because infrastructure “can be an easy target for attacks.” This further explains the action of sending money to groups in exchange for support.

How is Islamic State able to fund such large sums of money to different affiliates?

As The New York Times reports, IS funds come from four main sources: extortion and taxation in Iraq, stolen money from state owned Iraqi banks, oil, and kidnapping ransoms. Just in 2014, ISIS gained $600 million in extortion and taxes, $500 million in stolen funds from state banks, $100 million in oil, and $20 million in ransoms. And an estimated $875 million was the total amount of assets attained by IS when the group captured the city of Mosul in June of last year.

In 2014, the Islamic State seized hundreds of oil fields, and now holds 60% of all of Syria’s refineries. These refineries have been a large target for “United States- led airstrikes” since September 2014. However, as the numbers above show, oil is but a fraction of the group’s income. The Islamic State uses much of the oil in production “for its own fuel,” and was apparently already selling oil at a discounted price “among local markets” before prices fell to “about $2 million per week.” Most of IS oil is sold in the black market, and buyers may not know its origin. The issue of fallen oil prices and stolen refineries, which has cost the Syrian government $3.8 billion dollars, has Syria worried and Iraq uncertain of their abilities to fight against the Islamic State.

IS also receives donations from “sympathetic private individuals” including from areas like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

The terrorist regime “keeps costs low” by stealing military equipment and infrastructure when it can, and pays low salaries, according to The New York Times.

Funding affiliated groups for their allegiance is a strategic and successful route for the terror group to take. However, it is important to remember that the offer of money from IS is not the only reason many terror groups join in this larger alliance of terrorist groups. Each group shares the same ideology and seek the same “legal, religious, and political ends.”

Islamic State’s ability to raise funds is a major challenge for those fighting against IS, and a deep analysis of IS’s finances followed by an in depth strategy on how to cut off IS funding would be a critical step towards defeating “the world’s wealthiest terrorist group.”

ISLAMIC STATE: Big Explosions, Sex Slaves And Female Operatives

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U.S. considers whether ISIS wives playing key role in operations  (cnn.com)

Washington (CNN)The U.S. is now looking at the possibility that wives of ISIS figures may play a greater role in operations and communications than previously thought because the terror group believes U.S. intelligence pays less attention to them.

Last month, an Army Delta Force raid in eastern Syria killed Abu Sayyaf, a senior ISIS leader involved in finance and other operations, and also led to the capture of his wife. The raid yielded significant intelligence that U.S. officials said adds to their understanding of ISIS’s structure and communications.

Several officials cautioned, however, that all of the intelligence gathered and information gained from the interrogation of the captured wife must be vetted and confirmed.

READ: Carter: ISIS raid a ‘significant blow’ to terror group

As CNN has previously reported, a U.S. official said the raid netted terabytes worth of data in external hard drives and hard copy, a higher volume than had originally been anticipated. The U.S. is reviewing it all to determine if it leads to anything that can be acted upon.

A second official said one U.S. airstrike in eastern Syria just a few days ago that killed a local ISIS emir was conducted on the basis of information gained from the raid.

Read more

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REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

Pentagon: ISIS Using Tunnels to Bomb Targets in Iraq, Syria (breitbart.com)

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and rebels in Syria are using tunnel bombs as a potent new weapon, an upgrade to an ancient tactic, according to a Pentagon organization.

“Updating an ancient tactic, Islamic State militants — as well as rebels in Syria — are digging virtually undetectable tunnels, then planting bombs to blow up buildings and other targets,” reports Defense One, quoting JIEDDO (Joint IED Defeat Organization), the Pentagon arm focused on defeating the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as a weapon.

Defense One learned from Pentagon officials and documents that several dozen tunnel bombs have been used by rebels in Syria while ISIS detonated them last week to capture Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province.

The concept behind detonating a tunnel bomb is reportedly quite simple: dig long enough to reach your intended target, plant explosives, and hit the detonator.

“This below the surface attack is particularly destructive to buildings and is appearing increasingly in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria,” said JIEDDO at a recent briefing, according to Defense One.

“The use of tunnels for IEDs and other purposes will continue to provide a low risk strategic advantage to extremist organizations and therefore requires continued development efforts and fielding of effective mitigation techniques,” it added.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has designated all groups attempting to topple him, which include ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, as rebels.

ISIS in Iraq and rebels in Syria have detonated at least 45 tunnel bombs in the past two years, JIEDDO said.

Although most have been in Syria, U.S. officials told Defense One that ISIS is building a network of tunnels, as well as bunkers and trenches, in Iraq.

“In Syria, rebels have used tunnels bombs to attack government forces under the control of Bashar al-Assad,” reports Defense One. “Many of these tunnels were dug with hand tools to avoid detection.”

“In Iraq, ISIS used tunnel attacks to devastating effect in their assault on Ramadi. On March 11, ISIS forces detonated a tunnel bomb under an Iraqi army headquarters, killing an estimated 22 people,” it adds. “The blast consumed seven tons of explosives in an 800-foot long tunnel that took two months to dig, according to the JIEDDO briefing. On March 15, a second tunnel bomb was used to attack Iraqi Security Forces. The city fell two months later.”

During the briefing, JIEDDO noted that ISIS frequently disseminates videos on social media showing the use of tunnel bombs on its targets.

“As part of an information operations campaign, these attacks are documented and widely proliferated via social media which increases the likelihood of migration to other conflict areas or adoption by other extremist organizations on a worldwide basis,” reportedly said JIEDDO.

The Pentagon organization revealed that tunnel bombs are being used to target military checkpoints, buildings, and other protected establishments.

It can take less than 30 days to dig a short tunnel, while longer ones (no more than 1 mile in length) can take up to nine months to complete, said JIEDDO.

Defense One notes that tunnels have been weaponized by Iran proxy Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza as a means to smuggle weapons and attack Israel.

“Now their use is spreading, and extending to direct attacks,” explains the article.

“Beyond bombs, ISIS is believed to be using tunnels to move weapons and avoid detection by American and ally fighter jets and drones. (ISIS may even be exploiting Saddam Hussein’s own tunnel network, which is thought to stretch for 60 miles between palaces, military strongholds, and houses,” it adds. “During the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam’s forces used these tunnels to move weapons and as hideouts.)”

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Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013. (PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013.
(PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

ISIS Sells Sex Slave Girls for ‘as Little as a Pack of Cigarettes’ to Attract Foreign Jihadis With ‘New Girls,’ UN Envoy Warns (christianpost.com)

In continuing to display how little the Islamic State values life and women, ISIS militants are buying and selling sexually enslaved girls and women for as cheap as a pack of cigarettes in hopes of attracting more men to the group, a United Nations envoy declared on Monday.

Zainab Bangura, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told AFP that in order for ISIS to recruit more foreign fighters to join its military ranks, the caliphate continues to capture more girls and women in each new territory it conquers and then sells them at low prices.

“This is how they attract young men — ‘we have women waiting [for] you, virgins that you can marry,'” Bangura said. “The foreign fighters are the backbone of the fighting.”

Bangura, who recently toured through five Middle East countries and interviewed numerous women who were victimized by ISIS but managed to escape, explained that ISIS’ jihad is fueled by the enslavement of women.

“They [ISIS militants] kidnap and abduct women when they take areas so they have — I don’t want to call it a fresh supply, but they have new girls,” Bangura, a native of Sierra Leone, asserted. “This is a war that is being fought on the bodies of women.”

According to April’s estimates, ISIS has approximately 25,000 foreign fighters. But not only does ISIS have “new girls” for foreign fighters to acquire once they reach the caliphate, ISIS’ sex slaves are affordable and priced to meet even the poorest militant’s budget.

Bangura said that captured women and girls are often forced to strip naked and are judged by ISIS militants who gauge how much they are to be sold for. The fighters price some girls as high as a few thousand dollars, while selling others for “as little as a pack of cigarettes,” she stated.

“Some [females] were taken, locked up in a room — over 100 of them in a small house — stripped naked and washed,” Bangura said. “They were then made to stand in front of a group of men who decided ‘what you are worth.'”

After a girl is sold to an ISIS fighter, she is usually beaten, raped against her will and often sold or given away to another militant when the fighter is done abusing her. Should a sex slave refuse to give into her militant’s brutal and abnormal sexual fantasies, she is beaten or sometimes tortured.

In May, Bangura explained that a 20-year-old sex slave was burned alive after she refused to perform an “extreme sex act.”

“We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act,” Bangura said. “We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.”

Bangura also said that ISIS forces some captured women and girls into prostitution.

In a press briefing in early May, Bangura explained that one sex slave, who was sold to 20 different ISIS fighters before she escaped, was forced to undergo virginity repair surgery each time she was sold and raped by the next ISIS fighter.

“ISIL have institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their strategic objectives,” Bangura said.

Bangura told AFP that ISIS wants to “build a society that reflects the 13th century,” through its systemic sexual abuse of women, which she labeled as a “medieval” practice.

“Sexual violence by ISIL and other extremist groups arises from discrimination and dehumanization based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, political or religious identity, in particular the subordination of women and girls,” Bangura wrote in an email to Women eNews. “Indeed, the same ideology and objectives that motivate Boko Haram to abduct women and girls in Nigeria, also spur ISIL to enslave women and girls in Syria and Iraq.”

“Such violence has led to a number of harmful or negative coping mechanisms, such as the early marriage of girls by families that have no other means of protecting them, an increase in polygamy and “survival sex” by those with no economic alternatives, as well as the withdrawal and isolation of women and girls from education and public life,” she added.

Egypt helping organize anti-Muslim Brotherhood Syrian opposition

640x392_65997_224309-190x150CSP, by Ashley Davies, June 8, 2015:

A two-day conference of Syrian opposition leaders in Cairo is set to wrap up today, June 9th. The conference, a continuation of meetings in January, intended to develop a political solution to Syrian turmoil and form a new coalition called the Syrian National Opposition. In January, over 150 representatives of 40 Syrian political parties and organizations gathered and drafted a 10 point document on the new coalition’s goals. These points included backing a political solution in Syria, rejecting foreign military presence in Syria, releasing all hostages and detainees in Syria, and following the Geneva I communiqué.

The meetings on Monday and Tuesday, organized by Haytham Manna, were also set to elect a political committee and establish a policy charter. The political committee, the Syrian National Opposition, is said to be in favor of separation of state and religion, equality of all Syrian citizens, and seeks to criminalize political sectarianism and terrorism. Manna claimed the conferences have taken place in Cairo because the “Egyptian Foreign Ministry has always maintained good relations with all the currents of the Syrian opposition.”

Amongst those attending the most recent conference included 75 members of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, of whom Manna says approximately 20 of the democratic members are with him.

Attendees included Haytham Manna and Ahmad Jarba. Manna, one of the main organizers of the conferences, is well known for being highly critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the Syrian opposition. Manna has accused the Brotherhood of being the cause of Syrian turmoil and forcing Syria to embrace “Islamism”. In response, the Muslim Brotherhood have accused Manna of aiding the Assad regime’s interests. Jarba was elected president of the Syrian National Coalition in March 2014, assisting Mustafa al-Sabbagh’s faction, in an attempt to oust the Brotherhood out of the opposition, take over all other positions in the Coalition. The undermining of the Brotherhood’s presence in the Coalition resulted in substantial ill will between many of the Brotherhood’s members towards Jarba.

The presence of these high-ranking Syrian leaders at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood highlights the fact that Egypt’s motives for hosting the conference may extend to a desire to help form Syrian coalition with a strongly anti-Brotherhood stance. Tensions between Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood have been high since Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, was forced out of office in a coup in 2013. Most recently, Egypt has expressed in intense displeasure with the United States meeting with Muslim Brotherhood members. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s  administration playing host the Syrian opposition conferences, we can expect Egypt to attempt to encourage an outcome that best undermines the Brotherhood.

Iran Spends Billions to Prop Up Assad

ASKING FOR A LOAN? SOURCE: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

ASKING FOR A LOAN? SOURCE: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Bloomberg View, by Eli Lake, June 9, 2015:

Iran is spending billions of dollars a year to prop up the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, according to the U.N.’s envoy to Syria and other outside experts. These estimates are far higher than what the Barack Obama administration, busy negotiating a nuclear deal with the Tehran government, has implied Iran spends on its policy to destabilize the Middle East.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told me that the envoy estimates Iran spends $6 billion annually on Assad’s government. Other experts I spoke to put the number even higher. Nadim Shehadi, the director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, said his research shows that Iran spent between $14 and $15 billion in military and economic aid to the Damascus regime in 2012 and 2013, even though Iran’s banks and businesses were cut off from the international financial system.

Such figures undermine recent claims from Obama and his top officials suggesting that Iran spends a relative pittance to challenge U.S. interests and allies in the region. While the administration has never disclosed its own estimates on how much Iran spends to back Syria and other allies in the Middle East, Obama himself has played down the financial dimension of the regime’s support.

“The great danger that the region has faced from Iran is not because they have so much money. Their budget — their military budget is $15 billion compared to $150 billion for the Gulf States,” he said in an interview last week with Israel’s Channel 2.

But experts see it another way. The Christian Science Monitor last month reported that de Mastura told a think tank in Washington that Iran was spending three times its official military budget–$35 billion annually–to support Assad in Syria. When asked about that earlier event, Jessy Chahine, the spokeswoman for de Mistura, e-mailed me: “The Special Envoy has estimated Iran spends $6 billion annually on supporting the Assad regime in Syria. So it’s $6 billion not $35 billion.”

Either way, that figure is significant. Many members of Congress and close U.S. regional allies have raised concerns that Iran will see a windfall of cash as a condition of any nuclear deal it signs this summer. Obama himself has said there is at least $150 billion worth of Iranian money being held in overseas banks as part of the crippling sanctions. If Iran spends billions of its limited resources today to support its proxies in the Middle East, it would follow that it will spend even more once sanctions are lifted.

The Obama administration disagrees. It says the amount Iran spends on mischief in the region is so low that any future sanctions relief will not make a difference in its behavior. Speaking at a conference this weekend sponsored by the Jerusalem Post, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that even as Iran’s economy has suffered from sanctions in recent years, it has been able to maintain its “small” level of assistance to terrorists and other proxies. “The unfortunate truth remains that the cost of this support is sufficiently small, that we will need to remain vigilant with or without a nuclear deal to use our other tools to deter the funding of terror and regional destabilization,” he said.

Shehadi and other experts acknowledged that their figures were estimates, because the Tehran regime does not publicize budgets for its Revolutionary Guard Corps or the full subsidies it provides to allies. Nonetheless, Shehadi says, Iranian support to Syria today is substantial, especially when factoring in the line of credit, oil subsidies and other kinds of economic assistance Iran provides the Syrian regime.

Steven Heydemann, who was the vice president for applied research on conflict at the U.S. Institute of Peace until last month, told me earlier this year that the value of Iranian oil transfers, lines of credit, military personnel costs and subsidies for weapons for the Syrian government was likely between $3.5 and $4 billion annually. He said that did not factor in how much Iran spent on supporting Hezbollah and other militias fighting Assad’s opponents in Syria. Heydamann said he estimated the total support from Iran for Assad would be between $15 and $20 billion annually.

A Pentagon report released last week was quite clear about what Iran hopes to achieve with its spending: “Iran has not substantively changed its national security and military strategies over the past year. However, Tehran has adjusted its approach to achieve its enduring objectives, by increasing its diplomatic outreach and decreasing its bellicose rhetoric.” The report says Iran’s strategy is intended to preserve its Islamic system of governance, protect it from outside threats, attain economic prosperity and “establish Iran as the dominant regional power.”

If Iran ends up accepting a deal on its nuclear program, it will see an infusion of cash to pursue that regional agenda. Shehadi said this fits a pattern for dictatorships in the Middle East: they preoccupy the international community with proliferation issues while, behind the scene, they continue to commit atrocities.

“In the early 1990s, Saddam Hussein was massacring his people and we were worried about the weapons inspectors,” Shehadi said. “Bashar al-Assad did that too. He kept us busy with chemical weapons when he massacred his people. Iran is keeping us busy with a nuclear deal and we are giving them carte blanche in Syria and the region.”

Also see:

U.S. Acting as Air Support to Al-Qaeda in Syria Against ISIS

Al Nusrah leader Abu Muhammad al Julani interview with Al Jazeera June 3, 2015 Source: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/inheritedjihad.php

Al Nusrah leader Abu Muhammad al Julani interview with Al Jazeera June 3, 2015 Source: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/inheritedjihad.php

PJ Media by Patrick Poole, June 7, 2015:

U.S. coalition aircraft struck ISIS positions in support of Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official Syria affiliate, along with another prominent jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham. This is a dramatic shift from just a year and a half ago, when Obama administration officials said they would support Islamist groups as long as they weren’t allied with Al-Qaeda.

Agence France Presse reports:

US-led aircraft bombed Islamic State group fighters as they battled rival Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda loyalists, for the first time, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the overnight raids in northern Aleppo as an intervention on the side of the rival rebels, which include forces who have been targeted previously by US-led strikes.

“The coalition carried out at least four strikes overnight targeting IS positions in the town of Suran,” the Britain-based Observatory said.

“It’s the first time that the international coalition has supported non-Kurdish opposition forces fighting the Islamic State,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

He said at least eight IS fighters were killed in the strikes and another 20 were injured.

This is also the first time that the U.S. has openly acted as air support for Al-Qaeda.

It needs to be stressed that U.S. airstrikes have targeted Jabhat al-Nusra in just the past month. Now we are effectively their air force. Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in December 2012.

Some may remember the breathless media reports last September that a previously unmentioned terror group operating inside Syria was plotting attacks on the U.S. and other Western targets, described by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan group.” As Al-Aan TV later revealed, the “Khorasan group” was nothing more than an elite group of foreign fighters working as part of Jabhat al-Nusra.

Thus began a series of U.S. strikes targeting al-Nusra:

Sept. 23: An airstrike killed Nusra leader Abu Yousef al-Turki.

Nov. 13: A Nusra base near Idlib was hit killing two.

Nov. 19: A storage facility controlled by Nusra was struck near the Turkish border at Harem.

March 9: A local Nusra headquarters in Bab al-Hawa was targeted close to the Turkish border.

May 20: Two Nusra buildings in Tawama were destroyed, killing 15 fighters.

This dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards al-Nusra has not gone unnoticed:

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So what changed?

Undoubtedly Nusra’s role in the opposition to ISIS was the topic of conversation at last month’s U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council’s meetings at Camp David. Nusra’s role in the Syrian opposition, particularly in the northwest part of the country, has grown considerably. If anyone could direct the Al-Qaeda franchise to cease plans directed at Western targets to allay fears of the Obama administration, it would be their Gulf sponsors.

Perhaps the result of those discussions was a two-part Al Jazeera interview with Nusra commander Abu Muhammad al-Julani. Speculation by some in the D.C. foreign policy community was that Julani was going to renounce the group’s allegiance to Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

But, as Tom Joscelyn at the Long War Journal noted, Julani made clear that Jabhat al-Nusra was Al-Qaeda’s operation and would remain so in submission to Zawahiri. Yet some in the D.C. foreign policy circles still insist that Nusra is becoming more “pragmatic.”

As I reported here at PJ Media in March, there is a major effort on the part of academics and journalists to rehabilitate Al-Qaeda’s image in the face of a growing ISIS threat.

And now, with Julani doubling-down on his allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Zawahiri, the U.S. is in the awkward position of providing air support to the very terror group, along with other “moderate” jihadists, in their struggle over territory with ISIS.

So our official policy is now to support the terrorists in Column A to fight (for now) the terrorists in Column B.

Some are happy with this development:

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I have reported here at PJ Media extensively over the past year about the shifting allegiances and alliances with terror groups by U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups. In fact, much of the recent gains made by Jabhat al-Nusra against the Assad regime have come as a result of U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles that had been provided to other groups that later fell into Nusra hands.

There are no assurances that Julani and Nusra will remain in the anti-ISIS camp. In fact, Julani previously served as one of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies and nothing prevents some kind of reconciliation down the road.

Barack Obama’s schizophrenic — and at times, contradictory — policy towards Syria has led us to this point where U.S. forces are serving in support of anti-ISIS elements, including Al-Qaeda. Not fourteen years after 9/11, is this what American signed up for?